Some of our clients have elected to conduct their own internal investigations. This process is not as easy as it may appear. Communication is a major piece of the process. Managers fail to communicate not because they do not know how to talk, but because they don’t know how to listen. Here are some reasons why internal investigators fail and some practical advice.
1. Ten percent of the population will not confess or be persuaded to tell the truth.
2. Managers fail to perform a full background investigation on all concerned before the interview.
3. Managers fail to pick up the employee’s passive messages. You must LISTEN to everything being said.
4. Managers fail to control the structure of the interview. Too many questions can cause distortion of the emerging picture. Remember: The innocent virtually never change their story!!
5. Managers have to learn to control their own verbal and non-verbal behavior. The person being interviewed is watching for honesty and deceptiveness and the role of the interviewer.
6. Managers talk too much! They fail to become active listeners and forget to ask the same questions multiple times. Note: Asking a question repetitiously and intermittently often elicits multiple responses.
7. Managers often ignore the feelings of the person being interviewed and simply focus on the process. This is a rapport killer, so listen.
8. Managers give up! Don’t! Stick with the process even if the person refuses to talk. They are not entitled to counsel or the advice of counsel in these settings.
9. Managers some times take gender differences into consideration. Everyone has to tell the truth. To listen with intent and understand what someone is really saying does not require you to agree or disagree.
10. Managers are sometimes not open-minded if the individual is someone that they either like or dislike. Remain neutral and do not bring your own views of the world into the scenario.
In my own self-serving opinion I do believe investigations should be conducted by someone outside of the company. They can be complicated but more importantly they can later be scrutinized in a court of law.